AMID the reported lowering of cases of African Swine Fever (ASF) at the neighboring Iloilo province, the local task force in Negros Occidental is maintaining its close guarding against the deadly swine disease.

Dr. Placeda Lemana, acting head of the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO), said yesterday, November 22, that their work will be the same regardless of whether the cases of ASF go up or down.

"The ASF virus is not easily eliminated in an area," Lemana pointed out.

Cases of ASF in Oton town, Iloilo are already decreasing, Vice Mayor Jose Neil Olivares claimed on Monday.

He said that of the 37 barangays, only 28 have remaining ASF cases and more or less 9,000 swine are not contaminated.

Oton was the first municipality in Iloilo to record ASF cases.

It was previously placed under a state of calamity. Currently, it remains in the red or infected zone.

As of November 19, over 1,700 hogs have been depopulated or have died of natural causes in the area.

Lemana also said that it is only the Regional Animal Surveillance Unit of the Department of Agriculture that can declare that an area is already free of ASF or that cases are going down.

She said that the province and city’s joint task force’s campaign against ASF is being intensified, especially on surveillance in groceries and markets.

"We will pull out any items deemed prohibited under our provincial ordinance. We will order it to be shipped back from its source or dispose of it through burying it on the ground or burning it," she said.*